Friday, August 29, 2008

Is the most powerful man in the world just like any average guy?

As the race for the White House heats up, I cannot help but notice the complete contradictions in the nature of the ambitions involved and the stated personal attributes of the candidates. This point sunk in deep as I was listening to the speeches delivered at Democratic National Convention. Throughout the campaign, Barack Obama has been repeatedly insisting that he is a common man who can relate to the problems and grievances of regular middle-class, blue-collar Americans. In his attempt to woo the voters, he has often appealed to the common dreams and goals he shares with millions of fellow citizens. He often talks of his family and the way in which the little experiences of a modest background have shaped his perspectives. He professes his love for his children at every opportunity as a way of connecting with parents across the nation. And then there is the whole faith issue - about how his personal religious beliefs have helped him through life's upheavals and been a constant source of guidance and inspiration. No doubt all this appeals to common people because of their simple nobility and honest-to-goodness. At the Convention, it was his wife Michelle who was doing most of this appeal to the "common thread" that supposedly runs through the lives of all Americans. That was a damn good speech of hers I should say. That is, if you does not carefully consider the real content of her speech. Because if you did, you would realize quite instantly that there really isn't much of one to speak of. Aside from what is merely a regurgitation of the above points her hubby makes every time on stage, there were just enough descriptions of her own past thrown in to show how parallel their aspirations in life are.
Consider this - Barack Obama is running for the most powerful office on this planet, one so excessive that it can basically change the global military, economic and political situation irrevocably in less time than it takes to prepare that Convention speech. And we have witnessed nothing less than that from the nightmarish two terms of George Bush. Occupying a seat of such enormous power, importance and influence is no meagre task even if you are guaranteed certain immunity from removal or accountability -another aspect we have watched in abundance during the last 7 years. Given the importance, the person is always under national and international spotlight, every single decision, statement, gesture and action studied in great detail and interpreted and commented upon extensively. Such an individual is perpetually besieged by an endless array of press conferences,meetings with advisers and Cabinet, committee hearings, diplomatic missions ,appearance at formal gatherings, speeches and a whole lot of other nagging businesses. While all this is generally true of any national leader, given that the Constitution of the United States entrusts Executive power solely in the hands of a one man (atleast for now I don't have to be PC about gender unless grandpa McCain gets elected and pops off), it is all the more a relentless stream of activity. And like it or not, the President has to put up a pleasant, smiling face through all that. With so much involved, do you want me to believe even a normal politician, let alone a common man, would seek such an office. No fucking way. The need for absolute power can come only with excessive greed, boundless ambition, self-aggrandization, a sense of supreme confidence bordering on narcissism and a complete disregard for the few people you may have just trampled over along the way. Anything less than that and some minimal stability would convince anyone to steer clear of the hot seat. This is true about anyone running for Presidency, however well-meaning you may believe he is. And even if he a billion times better than his opponent, as is glaringly obvious in the case of Barack Obama.
Yet, we will have to endure Obama - and all other power-zany politicians across the globe - talk about how they are a typical representative of their countrymen.
Despite it being such an outright lie, it goes down well with the people and always has been and always will be. In fact, anything that strays ever so slightly from such an angle is deemed elitist and a certain vote-loss. No matter how accurate and honest that position may be.
This hypocrisy has to go away. Clearly someone worthy has to occupy such a powerful position. Once we accept that, we also need to also understand and tolerate all the egomania that comes with it - something that is as essential to the position as anything else. When we acknowledge this simple truth, then there would be no need for power-addicted politicians to pretend that they are like average people. They could just go on to more substantive issues that concern the nation instead of talking about how much their family means to them.

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